Every year, thousands of football players’ collegiate careers end with the realization they have no shot of playing in the NFL. Even if they play for Division I programs, many players have little or no hope at playing professional football in the world’s most popular (and only relevant) league. Then there are those players who will undoubtedly play in the NFL, although their success there isn’t guaranteed. Tell that to a fan of one of those said players and you’ll likely stumble into a hornets nest without knowing it.
With the 2014 NFL Draft getting closer and closer, polarizing and controversial players like Johnny Manziel and Jadeveon Clowney are the main topics of conversation and debate as the opinions and predictions about their futures are diverse and tense. Don’t let a Texas A&M fan hear you say Johnny Football will flop in the NFL or they’ll bite your head off and then annoy you about it to the point you wish you’d never said anything. The same applies to South Carolina fans and negative comments about Clowney, but does that makes those comments wrong or incorrect?
The answer is technically up in the air because it’s hard to accurately predict the futures of prospective NFL players and a winner of the debate can’t be decided until their pro careers are well under way, but there are certain factors that tend to lead most of us to the correct conclusion beforehand.
Take Manziel, for example: He can’t read a defense well enough before or after the snap to succeed at the next level and his mechanics are only slightly better than Tim Tebow’s. Add that to the facts he has no leadership ability and is “blinded by the bright lights of Hollywood,” to quote one official NFL scout, and Manziel is doomed for failure at the next level. However, his Aggie supporters will quickly defend him by screaming and pointing to his Heisman Trophy, even though several quarterbacks who have won the same award flopped in the NFL, including Troy Smith, Chris Weinke, Matt Leinart and…Tebow.
The same goes for Clowney — he was dominant at times during his sophomore season and then his head got the best of him as a junior. He doesn’t put forth 100 percent effort on every play and blatantly takes plays off in between big plays, which were few and far between in 2013 after he became an overnight sensation in 2012. Coincidence? Not a chance. However, Gamecocks fans will overlook all of that and just point to how dominant Clowney was as a sophomore and use that as sheer proof he will succeed at the next level.
Now let’s get one thing straight: Clowney has a much better chance of succeeding in the NFL because he has the talent, build and mechanics to do so if he can get his head on straight. The same doesn’t apply to Manziel, although many argue the opposite and will also contend that Clowney didn’t take plays off as a junior and that he was just as dominant.
No, he wasn’t, and they know that.
Folks, if you want to discuss the NFL Draft with your friends (or anyone, for that matter) without running them off in annoyance, then approach the conversation reasonably. If you’re a fan of a lower-tier DI program and you think your team’s No. 2 receiver should be a first-round pick, no one is going to want to talk about the draft with you. The sooner you realize that, the better off you’ll be.
Even if you’re a fan of a player like Manziel or Clowney, the sooner you realize that their doubters have good reason for their beliefs, the more friends you’ll have outside of your classmates or fellow alumni. Could they both prove us wrong and put together solid NFL careers? Of course! That’s no guarantee, though, so don’t act like it is.